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Make quick work of cyber-snoopers

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in Your Office Coach

Q: “The woman whose desk is next to mine spends hours on Facebook and even refers to herself as an ‘online stalker.’ She is pals with our network administrator, who supposedly likes to read every email that comes into the company.

“I recently figured out that these two have been reading my personal email whenever I access my account at work. Even more alarming, they apparently tried to log in to my online banking. Because they exceeded the allowed number of password attempts, I was locked out of the account when I got home.

“To prevent this prying, I have stopped checking my personal email at work. This frustrates my co-worker, who now tries to make me log on by saying that she sent me a picture or joke. When I reply that I’ll read it at home, she gets really annoyed. What else can I do about this?” Harassed

A: If the cyber-snoopers are this eager to invade your privacy, then they are undoubtedly doing the same to other unsuspecting employees. Therefore, in addition to protecting yourself, you might also take steps to protect your colleagues.

Given the serious nature of the offense, talking to someone in management or human resources would seem to be the appropriate next step. If you know of others who have been victimized, they can also attend and help present the case.

For example: “We thought you should know that some people in the company have been reading their co-workers’ personal email online and have even tried to get into their bank accounts. We’re asking you to investigate the situation and put a stop to this inappropriate behavior.”

You can then provide whatever proof you have of these intrusions. If management fails to take immediate action, informally spread the word that accessing personal accounts at work can make them vulnerable to viewing by others.

Do you need to make management aware of a problem? Here's the best way to do it: How to Complain to Your Boss.

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